Thursday, April 02, 2009

Meeting in the Middle, Louisville-Style

Over the last 48 hours, I have received a barrage of emails concerning the bike station issue. The vast majority are opposed to the idea, but those that are for it are...well...let's just say they are "quite enthusiastic" about their cause.

Because of the growing animosity and the intense correspondence I am receiving on the subject, I offer the following for your consideration:

Early in the debate on the bike station, I proposed an alternative. It occurred to me that many more would benefit in both the short and long term if the city were to build some sort of "biking infrastructure" that would connect our wonderful Olmstead Parks. It would build a community of people interesting in biking recreationally, and may actually lead to a citizenry that actively seeks a downtown extension leading up to construction of a bike station that many more would be willing to support and/or use. The short-sightedness of the current plan, in my opinion, has politically charged the situation and will probably end up leaving many people trembling with anger and acting out in idiotic ways. City leaders keep bringing up Chicago's bike station as a model for Louisville's. But recent media reports have stated that there are only "up to" 500 dedicated users that pay an annual fee ($150) to utilize the station in a city of 3 million people.

Remember, this blog is about Southwest Louisville. The majority of people here want the city to pick up months-old storm debris and maybe entice someone to open a decent bookstore on Dixie Highway that doesn't involve peep shows, or at least for the residents of this community to feel as though they are involved in the dialogue when it comes to priorities. Downtown projects such as Fourth Street Live and the bike station only alienate and divide our city, and are seen by most in the Southwest as catering to "the elite".

To all this, I propose we open up a discussion on the bike issue. Can we meet in the middle? Or will we continue to separate ourselves according to imaginary boundaries? We are, after all, Louisvillians.


  1. Brian
    It certainly is an admirable notion to meet in the middle, but I see no compromise. Many have yet to remember that it was only seven years ago that a huge area of unincorporated county was merged with a 200+ year old city with a much more developed infrastructure.

    Those wanting to move along as if merger never happened must quickly do a "reality check". I seem to recall of late the city treasury has not gotten that much larger.

    The folks on the Southwest Dream Team are crying out to city leaders to hear our needs, many priorities are in need of attention, Iroquois Park trails still look like a war zone and yes I just took a look out front and the limbs are still there!

    Sure a bike station is a good idea, but not just yet. Other priorities deserve recognition.

  2. Sadly, it looks as though your words ring true. I have not yet been contacted by anyone wanting to talk about a compromise or even to address the proposal I set forth. It makes one wonder what the real agenda is...

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. I still think the Olmsted connection idea is a good one, but requires much more planning, time, and expense than the bike station. The three main parkways are all in dire need of maintenance and there are still stretches that don't have sidewalks. Southern Parkway's original grand design has been chopped up so much that it's a ghost of itself and Eastern Parkway is a speedway. To properly return these roads to real "parkways" would cost much more than $2m (Federal); there's more to building a proper bike path than throwing down some asphalt in the right of way. That shouldn't deter its progress, though.

    For a stimulus-funded project mandating alternative transportation, the bike-station plan seems to hit all the bases: secure sheltered storage (with a potential small police station), zip-car and bike rental, retail, lockers-showers, etc. While the 2,000 potential commuters won't happen over night, there's still a substantial number of people downtown that bike to work (I work with two in my office). And the convenience could act to spur more.

    Refurbishing the Olmsted parkways should definitely get attention, but I think this is the wrong project to be upset over. There are many other stimulus-funded bike paths going in all over the city (a big one in Seneca Park area) that could be added to.

  4. Yes, there are those that bike to work, so ... what do they do now? Exactly HOW do those folks in Chicago use the station, that is a question I have yet to get an answer to. Do they bike in, shower, and switch to other transportation to work, or do they ride the EL in and THEN switch to bikes to get around town? Either way suggests that another form of transport is also being utilized, right? What do they expect these folks to do, ride in, shower and change, and then continue to ride their bikes on to work? It just makes no sense. Better to encourage local businesses to create the capability for their employees to shower and store their bikes at work.

  5. The question is, Branden, have you talked to them? Will they utilize this station, or will they continue with however they do it now, especially if the station is blocks and blocks away?

    I remember when the plan was to have a mini-police station on the Waterfront, even remember exactly where it was supposed to be located, yet, nothing there. Used to be on on the Belvedere, it's gone too. We don't even have a regular police patrol division downtown, HQ is there, but it is unstaffed after 5 p.m. - anyone walking in finds an empty lobby. I have zero faith that there would be a police station located in this location, and just to staff it minimally would cost more than it will draw in income.

    How about repairing the Belvedere? It is an absolute mess, broken walks, empty buildings at the west end. Costs a fortune to rent it for an event, instead of making it easy to keep activity there, the city goes out of its way to discourage it.